|Brisbane magneto telephone exchange 1910|
The world’s first phone call;
On 10 March 1876, Bell successfully transmitted the first words ever uttered on a telephone. He said, ‘Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.’ Bell’s assistant, Thomas A Watson, was at the lower end of the wire, in the basement. He dropped the receiver and rushed up the three flights of stairs to inform Bell of the good news: ‘I can hear you! I can hear the words!’
The telephone arrives in Australia
Australian inventors were keen to experiment with Bell’s new device.
One of the country’s most versatile innovators was Henry Sutton (1856–1912) of Ballarat, Victoria. By late 1877 Sutton had developed numerous telephonic devices, and 16 of his models were later patented overseas. His work was acknowledged by Alexander Bell during his visit to Australia in 1910.
The first telephone service in Australia is believed to have run on 2 January 1878. It operated between hardware supplier McLean Bros & Rigg in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, and their Spencer Street Depot, over a kilometer away.
Wahroonga telephone exchange 1939
As of 1861 there were 110 telegraph stations across the eastern colonies.
By 1867 there were 1,676 miles of line within Victoria, handling 122,138 messages (compared to around 7.92 million in the US and 5.78 million in the UK that year).
Reuters, in competition with local news agencies, operated in Australia from 1860 onwards.
The cost per word for a message from London was at that time equivalent to the average weekly wage.
A link between Adelaide and Perth was established in 1875, with the 2,900 kilometer Adelaide to Port Darwin link (the Overland Telegraph Line or OTL) in 1872 costing £300,000.
First telephone service launched, connecting Melbourne and South Melbourne offices of Robinson Brothers;
1880 First telephone exchange opened in Melbourne, shortly before the hanging of Ned Kelly
1882 First public telephone exchange based in Sydney, making telephone use and ownership available to the public in NSW - barely six years after Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone
1884 Around 7,757 telephone calls handled through the year
1901 The Federation of the Commonwealth of Australia established the Postmaster-General's department to look after all communication networks in the nation
1935 Australia ranked seventh in the world for percentage of telephones.
Now you can instantly communicate with Sepia Saturday and it won't cost you your weekly wage.